Craig Brewer (Director/Producer) began his career as a filmmaker in Memphis, Tennessee. While working at Barnes & Noble, he learned camera and editing techniques from books he purchased with his employee discount. In 2000, he made his first feature film, THE POOR & HUNGRY, which won Best Digital Feature at the 2000 Hollywood Film Festival.
Brewer’s second film, HUSTLE & FLOW, starring Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, was produced by Stephanie Allain and the late John Singleton. The film premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, winning the Audience Award for Best Feature. The film secured a record-breaking acquisition deal by Paramount Pictures and MTV Films. It garnered an Academy Award nomination for lead actor Terrence Howard and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song: Three 6 Mafia’s “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp.”
Brewer’s third film, BLACK SNACK MOAN, starred Samuel L. Jackson, Christina Ricci, and Justin Timberlake. The film premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and was released in theaters by Paramount Pictures. In 2011, Brewer directed the remake of FOOTLOOSE for Paramount and produced the concert documentary KATY PERRY: PART OF ME.
Moving into Television, Brewer directed the pilot to TERRIERS, which ran for one season on FX. He then re-teamed with Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson, directing ten episodes on their hit TV series, EMPIRE.
In 2018, Brewer began his collaboration with Eddie Murphy on two films. The first, DOLEMITE IS MY NAME, based on the life of Rudy Ray Moore, won The Critic’s Choice Award for Best Comedy, an NAACP Award for Best Independent Film, and earned Eddie Murphy a Golden Globe Nomination for Best Actor.
Next was the highly anticipated sequel, COMING 2 AMERICA. The film was produced by Paramount and released by Amazon Studios in 2020, becoming the most streamed movie for Amazon ever.
Enjoy my conversation with Craig Brewer.
Craig Brewer 0:00
The generation today is, I mean, even though there's an argument that not everything is accessible, but because things are so accessible, it's almost blinding.
Alex Ferrari 0:08
This episode is brought to you by the best selling book, Rise of the Filmtrepreneur how to turn your independent film into a money making business. Learn more at filmbizbook.com. I'd like to welcome to the show, Craig Brewer man. How you doing Craig?
Craig Brewer 0:22
I'm doing good. Doing good!
Alex Ferrari 0:24
Thank you so much for coming on the show, man. And I appreciate you having a good mic. A beautiful background. I appreciate that, sir.
Craig Brewer 0:32
It's all for you. It's all for you know, you know, I have I have one of these pandemic purchases. This Amazon mic that I'm sure microphone enthusiast would say is not superior. But it worked for that whole press junket that I had to do for coming to America where I couldn't be in the room with anybody. So it's fine for me.
Alex Ferrari 0:56
But listen, I've been following you, like I was telling you earlier. And I was following you since Hustle and Flow days, I was at Sundance, I had a five I think a 10 or 15 second conversation with Terrence as he was rushing through pre screening of them, because after that you couldn't even touch him. Screening, screening, I caught him on the street and talk to him for a few seconds. But yeah, I was there with that. And
Craig Brewer 1:21
Wild festival that was.
Alex Ferrari 1:23
Well, we'll definitely talk about but first question to you, my friend is why God's green earth did you decide to go into the film industry?
Craig Brewer 1:30
You know, it's so funny, because so not only am I now, like, I'll be turning 52 At the end of this year. But my daughter is now 15. And I think that for the and I'm very pleased to say that, you know, it's Friday, and she holds these screenings with all her friends here in my office space, which I have like a big it's kind of like a little mini theatre here. And she's showing John Carpenter's Halloween. And I was so proud. That I mean, she loves the David Gordon Greenway, but she, I'm so proud that she's showing the original to all her friends who haven't seen it. And it made me think back on my when I was, you know, probably about like 12 through 14 For my generation was a very unique time because and I was trying to explain this to my daughter, that, you know, there was a time where you couldn't just see movies, if you wanted to see them. There was like four channels and you know, maybe on the weekends you would get like, you know, some Westerns or something like that. But there was this explosion that happened with my father in the 80s of going down to a video store and him going like, oh my god, okay, you get, you know, you get Raiders, the Lost Ark, but I'm gonna get Bridge on the River Kwai. And so, yeah, we'd watch Raiders, but then like, Dad watch his movie, and I could watch it, you know. And so a lot of my love of movies really came from that was the equivalent of me and my dad, like throwing the ball around. You know, I wasn't really that. Still, I'm not athletic or anything like that. And, but he loved. He loved movies, he loved talking about movies. He loved showing movies to me. And I think that's where it was, it was like at first I wanted to be an archaeologist because I saw raiders and loved it. But then I saw the making of raiders
Alex Ferrari 3:28
Which by the way, was one of the few making a videos other than Star Wars that was available about filmmaking in the video store times. I mean, because that was rentable. It was if I remember is making Raiders of the Lost Ark. And then the second part was like a stuntman.
Craig Brewer 3:41
The stunt, the stunts of raiders the Lost Ark. Right, right. And maze and around the same time, you know, was the making of thriller, which ultimately financed thriller, like thriller was one of the biggest music videos of all time. And the way that the label justified it was okay, we'll get in the movie business, we'll make this movie called The Making of thriller, and that'll offset it and it became a huge hit for them as well. But it got me in the habit as a young person to go like okay, well wait a minute. There's this guy named Spielberg and he made Raiders of the Lost Ark. And then here's this guy, George Lucas, who I know is the guy at the beginning of Star Wars that I would watch see, up until then, I think especially when I was younger was Star Wars like it still was that place of fantasy. You just went into a movie theater, and these things just appeared. But then with the making of writers I was like, Oh, that guy and then like the making of thriller was like Oh, Landis this guy. And that was the beginning of like, truly being like, I guess a cinephile where you you begin to say, well, who is this filmmaker and what is their next film? And I remember my father and I, standing in line knowing that we were going to see Steven Spielberg's new movie called et Yeah, like it was up until then it would have just been et. But to us, we were seeing that guy Steven Spielberg's new movie. And so I think that because I went into theater, and I was acting a lot as a kid and writing a lot, movies was the dream, it was that thing that's like, off one day, I can maybe make, make some movies, you know, I mean, that I just didn't think that there would be anything cooler on the planet to do and because I just didn't have all the means. Immediately, I started just writing theater, and writing and directing plays, which completely completely informed directing movies, for me, staging, working with creative people, but also working with people who are probably cranky and different personalities and trying to get actors comfortable, and all that kind of stuff, I think was because of those early days of theater. But yeah, we're, I tell people all the time, like when you're part of that crew, that that growing family of people who who love movies. You know, we take everybody you know, that's the that's the great thing about about the movie club, you know, is that you can be the popular kid you can be the, you know, overweight kid, like I was where you just wanted to kind of, like, be a part of of something be a part of a big conversation.
Alex Ferrari 6:24
That's, that's awesome. Yeah, it's, it's, it's pretty insane. And I worked at a video store. So I work with why am I asking which one I was a mom and pop. And down in South Florida. It was a mom and pop one blockbuster had, I was working with pre but blockbuster. So just getting up. But I was there for four years, five years. And that's where I got my start. Like, I just, I would consider the consumer movies, and play Nintendo, consume movies and play Nintendo. That's all I did. And it was your right, it was a time that are for people to understand now that weren't growing up at that time, but you just didn't have access to movies like
Craig Brewer 7:01
Well, and I think the thing that I worry most about with the generation today is, I mean, even though there's an argument that not everything is accessible, but because things are so accessible, it's almost blinding. It's almost like it's too it's too there's just too many things to see. And, but back in the day, there wasn't a I mean, yeah, you could like you had your HBOs you had like, you know, things like that, but, but really like you had what was coming out on on VHS like I just some movies like, like blue thunder, you know? And, and, and then and then suddenly, you'll get one where you just go like, Oh, this cover so great. But then you're watching like Roger Corman's humanoids from the deep and I'm watching like a creature explode out of it. Or the external. Well, that was like the big deal like that. That was the equivalent of like, you know, no, excuse me, not exterminator. Reanimator was the movie that almost was like, was passed around like porn. It was this thing that like, oh my god, it's so crazy. Like, don't let your parents know that you're watching this. And
Alex Ferrari 8:17
Well, that's face as a death. If you remember that.
Craig Brewer 8:19
Oh, yeah. Well, that's like that. That was important. That was like, that was like snap. I was like, Oh, my God. God is watching me. Why
Alex Ferrari 8:26
How did that get five, five sequels?
Craig Brewer 8:31
Like, well, it's where we are now. I mean, it's just, I mean, I mean, faces of death is where I mean that that's live leak. That's, that's, that's, that's basically when you know, when people are going online, and they can look at something that they probably shouldn't be looking at, right? That was the early days of that. That was like, Oh, I'm gonna watch out when we get hit by a train. You know, and it's crazy stuff. Man is really crazy. And young to like, it probably wasn't right. It really wasn't right for us.
Alex Ferrari 9:01
I think I watched Scarface and then faces a debt.
Craig Brewer 9:05
That's, that's a bang, bang, gut punch and then wonder the face.
Alex Ferrari 9:09
I was like, What 14 15 At the time, like that. Crazy. Yeah, but you know, but it's interesting, though, that you're saying that there's so much content in the world today. And you know, when we were coming up, you know, the movie star was the movie star. You know, it was it was there was a thing called the movie star. And it drew drove everything. and to a lesser extent today, it still does. But the movie stars that are driving things today are legacy movie stars that have been around for 25 years, like the Leos. And the Brad Pitt's, and the Tom Cruise's, you know, and those kinds of but the new generations. I don't think that I think because there's so much more to watch. It's harder for somebody to become a movie star even if it even in a big, giant blockbuster kind of thing, like even the girl from Wednesday, which if Wednesday would have hit in the 80s. She would be a household name making Julia Roberts money every time she would walk up.
Craig Brewer 10:07
It's interesting because I have these debates with myself about that like, okay, are we are we leaving the movie star era? But maybe we're just leaving the movie star era that that that I knew where even though I'll still like okay if Tom Cruise I always feel like if Tom Cruise is going to put out a movie then I need to go see it. And I feel like everybody should do because I feel like there's few people out there that I think are still have his work ethic where he is saying like, No, I'm making movies for those people that like, actually work for a living and need to go out to see a movie theater, they're going out with their kids and and Dammit, I'm going to let them know that I'm working my ass off for them. That's kind of rare that we have someone who's like, Yeah, I'm gonna hang off the side of a jumbo.
Alex Ferrari 10:56
Did you just see it? Do you think he's like, flew his motorcycle up in the air? And then, and you see me you see Chris, you see the director Chris. They're like, it was a she was a shoe popping.
Craig Brewer 11:07
I'm telling you until until you are a director there's even there's a moment where you see, you know, Chris Froome query like, like someone is like, like, holding them after that said, because until you have a stunt until you do a stunt as a director. Oh, you don't. I mean, the terror that you have, that someone is going to get hurt or killed. Is is so real. And because you're almost with every movie that you're doing, you're tempting fate for it. Like you're inviting bad things to happen. And then you have someone like Tom Cruise who's like, you know, yes, he's a he's a professional. And he's got like, the best stunt team around and he, he's preparing for these things for months. But that's just terrifying. And so I think that when audiences see that they know that, that they recognize that they go okay, well, thank you for that. But I think the same could be said, I think that what we have now is, you know, you have like, yeah, you have we are in our we are we are undoubtedly in the super hero. I mean, I there will be a Tashan book one day, where we're in this era of, of superheroes like this will be the book that's like, okay, it kind of started here with I would say that it really started with Superman, like the original Christopher Reeve like where, where they go, No, we're gonna get good actors. We're gonna get like even Academy Award winning actors to be in essence, I really in the in the comic book thing, like, but they, but even back then with Richard Donner, like there was this sense of like, no, we want to, we want to make like if the godfather to is if the Godfather is to mafia, gangster movies, then we want to do a Superman or like a comic book movie in the same way. And, and really, so you're, you're the and I know it's been said, it's like, Spider Man is the star, right? Who plays in is going to change but Spider Man is the star. But now I've also found that what also is the star and which is kind of cool on a storytelling what element is the high concept of it is so. So you may not have like huge stars and get out. But everybody was talking about get out. It's like it and and I mean, yes, you have Sandra Bullock. But I mean, I remember when Birdbox hit and like you're now being hit with everybody going like, oh my god, did you see Birdbox? And it reminded me of kind of like, you know, just movies back in the day where you know, to be honest with you Terminator was this because turns out was not like that big of a theatrical hit. We discovered it on VHS because people were like, have you seen this movie about like that people are going back in time to kill the mother of the purchases big muscle bound, dude. And like, yeah, it was the concept of it, that we there was no stars in it that we were going like, oh my god, I gotta see Michael means no movie. No, it was like, this concept is driving it. And I feel that that we're now here with Megan. And in horror. You know, I just don't I hope that people will still do it with comedy and drama as well. But it's we're in a very unique time right now.
Alex Ferrari 14:23
No question, man. No question. So let's get let's go deep a little bit into your pastor. Your first film was poor and hungry. Which Yeah. Which How did you get that? Yeah, that little guy made because that was your first feature. Right? That was the first first thing you ever did.
Craig Brewer 14:38
It was i i still feel it's my best, actually. Wow, that's amazing. Yeah. Good stuff, sir. Thank you, but it's well and the reason why it's my best is because of what it meant to me. You know, my I had moved all my family's from Memphis but I lived a lot of my life in California. And then I moved back after both my granddad's died here in Memphis, and I moved into the house that my dad grew up in. And my grandmother was, you know, she had suffered from a stroke. And so I was kind of like helping out with that. But I really wanted to make a movie in the south. And what had happened was, I just really failed a lot like I it, I did what everybody did in the 90s, or what we were encouraged to do, which was, you know, spend your credit cards and make make that movie. And yeah, I'm glad I did it. But it's still I didn't really know what I was doing. I was shooting on 16 millimeter. And it just, I didn't even have the money to finish it really. And so I was really kind of depressed. And I was hanging out at this bar called the P and H Cafe, which stood for poor and hungry. And I started writing this movie about car thieves in Memphis, and it was a love story. And I wrote this, I wrote it, and I sent it off to my dad, and he was always really supportive of me, and, and he read it, and he just gave me like this great, you know, hey, get back in there, you know, don't be afraid of not having money, celebrate the fact that you don't have any money and just get one of these is like 1997 98. And so he was like, get one of these, like, small digital cameras, and then, and then edit it yourself on a on a on a computer and, and I suddenly was inspired. And I went out and I didn't go to film school or anything. But I did have a Barnes and Noble. I've worked at Barnes and Noble, and I had a discount there. So I got all the books I could on digital filmmaking and and then I came home and found out that my guy from my dad's work called and said, Your dad was complaining of chest pains, and we rushed him to the hospital. And he, he died of heart attack very unexpectedly, like we didn't know, there was he was, he wasn't really like a, you know, he was a pretty healthy guy. So, but it rocked me a lot. It rocked me that, that use 49. And I was, you know, I was like, you know, in my, in my, I think it was 30. And I, I just kind of rocked me on a on a mortality level, you know that? Well, I always thought there was time, you know, and I got about 20 grand of inheritance. And my mother told me, you should really make, you should try to make that movie that your dad was talking to you about. And so I went out, I just had like my brother in law and my wife at the time and my sister in law, and we all lived in this teeny little crappy house in Memphis, and we were making this movie with everything we had. And I cut it together all myself on on Adobe Premiere, and I learned a lot about filmmaking from that movie. But then then that, you know, that movie, not only opened the door to Hollywood, for me, because it played the Hollywood Film Festival and won an award. And then I got an agent. And the agent asked, Well, what do you want to do next? And I was like, Well, I made a sequel to poor and hungry, called Hustle and Flow. And it was going to be it's in the same crime world in Memphis, but it you know, has the same kind of heart that was in my first movie. And then Stephanie Elaine, who is the producer of Hustle and Flow, and then John Singleton. Read the script, but then they watched poor and hungry and, and John was very much like, well, this guy's a regional filmmaker, he's from, you know, he's doing a movie about Memphis and in Memphis, and if this movie poor and hungry, just had money behind it, and stars, you know, or at least name actors, you know, it could probably, you know, go somewhere. And, and so when you watch Hustle and Flow, it's really about me. And I mean, it's, it's it. It's us making that first movie in that crappy house, no air conditioning, doing everything we can to set us music. Yeah, yeah. That's basically what it is.
Alex Ferrari 19:02
And from, you know, because I remember when Hustle and Flow came out, I was coming out with my first film that was going through the festival circuit and doing all of that stuff as well. It was 2005. And I mean, when Hustle and Flow hit, because I was at Sundance and the insanity. I mean, this is Sundance. Oh, oh five is a very different Sundance than 2023. Like it's right. It had more power back then. The market was different. The there was still DVD sales, there was all sorts of stuff that was happening back then. But I mean, it's one of those, you know, in the 90s. Every week, there was a new, you know, a John Singleton, a Robert Rodriguez a Kevin Smith. So in the early 2000s Hustle and Flow hit, and it was it was an explosion in the indie space. There was a lot of talk about it. And I remember when, because John, you know, the late great John Singleton. When he was doing the rounds. I was I was like, looking at how this Craig guy get this thing made. How did he get this task? How to just single to get involved? And then I remember and correct me if I'm wrong in one of his interviews, he's like, Well, the studio wouldn't give me the money. So I put up the money did he actually, which is one thing you never do as a filmmaker is put your own cash in at that level? And he's like, No, I'm gonna write a check, because that's how much I believe in this. And, and he gave you a shot, it was pretty remarkable. It's unheard of. It's really unheard of in Hollywood.
Craig Brewer 20:25
Oh, it is. I bring it up all the time. Like he. And it's interesting. You bring that up about just the culture of Sundance at the time, because, you know, I was reading all those books that were about like the, you know, there was there was even this one book, and I can't remember, but it was kind of like tracking the growth of Sundance and then the growth of, oh, Miramax, I believe that there's and, and then. And it's really interesting, because, and this is what I have to give myself credit for, for like trying to just read all the books that I could, because I learned a lot about how it worked. And I'll never forget we were in. It was like 3am in the morning. And John is the bidding wars happening after that first screening that Hustle and Flow, amaze. And I mean, to watch that go down was crazy. But I'll never forget the moment where this guy, Richard kubek, who was one of the agents that was negotiating for John Singleton. And he turned to me and he was like, So what's important to you? And I said, Well, I only have two requirements. One that nobody changed the cut, the cut is the cut. That's the the movie, we won't be changing that. And I want no options. And, and they were like, wow, how do you know about options. And it was because I'd read these books. And what I knew about these books was that like, right around the time of like, like late 90s, into the 2000s, Harvey Weinstein had figured out a new model, where he would buy these movies, but he was kind of buying the filmmaker. So he would buy the movie. And then he would make you sign you would be happy to sign it. But you you would you would sign basically and negotiated what your next three films for Harvey at a negotiated price that was that are a set price gives me. So even if you suddenly were Guillermo de Toro, and you became like Guillermo del Toro, and you had no movies that Harvey Weinstein wanted to make, and you want to go to somebody else to make a movie, then Harvey would make a deal for himself to get him out of that contract. And so I had read about that. And I was like, I don't want that. And, and then, you know, John put his house up for collateral, we made the movie for under 3 million. I mean, we made the movie for about 1,000,009. I remember, I shot it in about 23 days, we did like six day weeks here in Memphis, and we even had like a mod, it was called modified low budget scale, which means that if you had more than, than a certain amount of percentage of of actors or actresses of color, or if they were handicapped, and you got to be in a different bracket. And so we really made it for very, very little money. And then John had this big, you know, $16 million deal that he got out of it. And I always tell people is like, Yeah, but that's what risk rewards you with, you know, because everybody tells you don't put your own money in these projects. And John put a put his house up for it. You know, he joke with me every day, you better make a good movie, or my kids aren't, are gonna go back to public school. But I really have to give it to him. Because it's not only that he took a shot with me, but he really mentored me. I mean, he really was he knew that I had filmed a movie just all by myself with like, a video camera in my hands. But then he would, he would really kind of like, come over to me and just go like, we're going to make our day. So if you really had to shoot this next scene with three setups, what would you you know, what would be those setups and, and that that's when I started to learn how to how to marshal a day, you know,
Alex Ferrari 24:07
Right! That's the thing that they don't teach you very often in school, or if you're doing your own indie is like, you can't make your day if you're like half a quarter page out third of the page out after day one. After day three, the whole thing is going downhill, you will make the movies done. You have to make your day you have to make your day you have to make your day and it's and it's always compromise, isn't it? Like you show up with this beautiful shot list of like I'm gonna do the Spielberg gets shots with some Scorsese and some Coppola maybe throw a little Hitchcock in there. And at the end of the day is alright, we're gonna do this in a winner. We're just going to put it on sticks. Yep, everyone act five minutes. Let's go.
Craig Brewer 24:45
So stressful and so stressful. And you think and you think we'd learn you know, you think that we'd get better at it. You think that it eventually go away? But it doesn't it just I mean, I've heard so many stories of like really like accomplished filmmakers. It still weep, you know, on set, because they just couldn't get that last shot, but they think that they needed and so crucial. You know,
Alex Ferrari 25:07
I always love I always love going on when I'm on a set of first day with my first ad I used to I love bringing this like, it's stupid shot list, like stupid. It's like never happened. But they don't know me. So I'll give it to them. And then there's that awkward conversation that like right before the first shot, like, can I am? Can I just talk to you about a couple things the first day?
Craig Brewer 25:29
I'm like, we discussed the work.
Alex Ferrari 25:32
So there's 128 setups here. I don't I know. They're just there. And I'll pick and choose as we go. But they're there just in case. You know,
Craig Brewer 25:45
I have to say, I, I don't do shotlists.
Alex Ferrari 25:50
Oh, you don't like I
Craig Brewer 25:53
I'm sure. I'm sure I could and should. And, and but I, I find that you really do have to show up on that day and find out what the day is bringing you. And yeah, really all that prep that you did the night before really could go right out the window. And you really do sometimes go like, Oh, I think I am gonna have to do this in two shots. And what would I have to do in two shots? Because you're marshaling the day. And I there's there's been a few times where, you know, a studio head saying like, I remember they they always send someone else they send some minion to say like, well, you know, the, the studio head was wondering if maybe you can make some shots, you know, if you did your shot list the night before. And I'll say who suggested that, you know, and they get all nervous and everything like that. And so I, I understand it. I'm a very agreeable guy. But I just find that unless you're doing like a stunt sequence, you're doing something definitely chin, something like that. But otherwise, I kind of like just to get there with the actors and figure out how we're going to do it right then in there.
Alex Ferrari 26:57
And I would agree with you too early in my career would be had a little bit more gusto in me. And I would do all that kind of stuff that later as I started directing, more and more, you just kind of get an instinct for it. You come on set, and you just go, oh, yeah, I just put it over here. Let's get this over here. Give me a 32. Here, let's and you just start, you just figure it out on the fly. But if there's something spit special you want, like, you know what, I really want to do this, this kind of fun way. And I'll bring maybe a few shots that all talk to the DP prior to it that kind of set it all up for it. But yeah, having I don't do the 100 as much anymore
Craig Brewer 27:31
Whenever, you know. Yeah, it's like, you know, it's gonna go right out the window, really. But I do feel that I mean, I'll tell you when I really felt like I learned how to direct was I had already made. Let's see, four features. And then I started in on Empire, like directing television. Like I had done it. I'd done like about three pilots and one episode of The Shield. But to go into like, episode after episode after episode on Empire, I understood Spielberg better, like because I'd read everywhere that like Spielberg really cut his teeth on television, early television. And that's when I felt like I for the first time. I was a director because there was a there was a sense of me not being important. I mean, I know that sounds sounds a little contradictory, but like, you know, you can't say like, well, I want it this way. They're like, Well, okay, have it your way. But you know, if you're not done, you know, we're gonna get someone in here. That'll do it because you have a days and that's it. And that really, I started thinking differently, like, as something as simple as extras, you know, that which is never simple, but like, when I want to feature sometimes I'll be like, Well, I gotta have 300 extras, obviously for the scene and then you argue and argue and argue and argue and it's funny, right? And then but in television, there's no discussion they're like, No, you have 20 That's, that's what you're getting. And you need to figure it out. And so then it starts exercising these different muscles in you then you're like, Okay, well wait a minute, what if we just do this like with a long lens kind of pointing down this hallway and we just pack this hallway with the 20 people and we don't really see that we just have 20 people and then that's how we'll create a cluttered space or you know, and I don't know if I would have felt that way or done that if I just got what I wanted and it just had a bunch of people in there and so it when I when I went to do dolomite is my name after all that and everybody was so like worried that like man you're gonna be working with Eddie Murphy and are you scared and and I said actually I'm really not I really feel like Empire is prepared me for this moment and and I already made a bunch of features you know, so I felt very confident going into that movie.
Alex Ferrari 29:47
Let me ask you What was you know, working with someone like John on Hustle and Flow and him mentoring you what was the biggest lesson you learned about filmmaking or writing from John because I mean, John's just such a legendary filmmaker, I watched Boys in the Hood. I mean, 1000s of times, it was just such a masterpiece. Of a piece of work.
Craig Brewer 30:06
John John said some of that I still I will still hear John in my head on set. And one thing that he said to me that I really took to heart was any punches when he says, he's like, shoot the meat. Shoot the meat, man. shoot this scene, make your master not just some little stupid, crawling across like, you know, that slow cut, you see it a lot in TV. It's like, it's like a master that's kind of moving a little bit. But he believed that you needed to make your master like Spielberg does his his wonders that if and I'll never forget what he said, he said, You got to shoot the meat, you know, should you guys shoot it good, because you never know what may happen. You may lose half your day because an actor like you know, some that may hurt himself or like, you know, Thunder comes along and or lightning, and now you've got to shut down. And you want to be able to know that if people turn the lights off on you, you've got you've got your scene. And that, that was a that was a big one. For me. That was like, he's still he was still of that. He he really loved cinema. And so he if you look at John's movies, from four brothers, every movie he does, he is a classic filmmaker. And how and what I mean by that is that there's a lot of filmmakers today and God knows I'm I can be just as guilty of it, where it's kind of like you're just kind of shooting heads, you do your master, you do your medium. And then it's just like, you're just hoping that the editor kind of like creates the rhythm of it, because you're gonna cut to that person that you're gonna cut to that person cut to that person, where John was very much like, No, how do we how do we stage this within the within the single where everybody you get the story told, and people are moving within the frame. That's like, John Ford. That's, you know, that's, that's well, that's, that's, that's why are there. That's all those films that he watched and studied. And, and I still, every time I sit with my director of photography, I do kind of go like, Okay, I know, I'm gonna pop in for some singles here and there. But what if we had to shoot the meat? How would we shoot it? And I love them. Yeah. So So John, it really is. But yeah, I think that that was probably the the biggest lesson. And then, you know, also to just trust that, that it's funny, because so much of our advice usually comes pre post, right? All the advice that you everybody wants, like, how do I get a movie made? And then like, how do you direct write, but no one ever really gives you advice about the whole editorial process. Right? And John, I was just I remember I saw the first edit of Hustle and Flow that just the editor, you know, cut. And I'd never seen anything like that. I'd never. That's the that's the first heartbreak of a filmmaker is when you you've been you've been dreaming of your movie. You've been watching dailies. And now you're watching a very rough raw assemblage of your movie doesn't have the music cues that you think he needs to have. It doesn't have the pacing. But worse than that, it's now real. The rubber is hitting the road. It is no longer in fantasy. This is what you have. And now you need to make something out of this. I pulled over on a Olympic Boulevard. And I sobbed so hard that snot was pouring out of my nose. It was it was so bad. And then like, and John calls me up. Because I was wrong. It's I've just I've just totally messed up this movie, man. I just you know, and he's like, can you just watch the Edit assembly? Just Shut? Shut up, man. You know, he's just go home, go to sleep. You know, everything's gonna be good. You know, get in there and everything. He always kind of just kept me in this perspective, that I think when you get older, or when you've made more films, you begin to see like, Okay, I'm about to go in. I'm about to, I'm about to watch this cut. I know it's going to drive me insane. But relax. And that's that's the other big lesson that he gave me.
Alex Ferrari 34:35
Marty still does that Marty still after the first cut? He goes, this is horrible. This is crap. He walks out. This is garbage. This is absolute garbage. And like and then Thelma has to bring it back in and that's okay. That's fine. It's fine. It's all that kind of stuff. Now I was wanted to ask you this question, man. How God's green earth did you get Black Snake Moan made? Like that is the most insane concept. You know, it just wow, how does how who put money behind that I know you had a little eat from Hustle and Flow. And that probably helped. But man, that's still a pretty risky film,
Craig Brewer 35:11
I would like to really give credit where credit is due. And the reason that movie got made was because of the late Brad Gray, who, who ran paramount. Now, Brad, his first order of business at Paramount This is before he took over at Paramount, it was like what Sundance was like in January. And he was taking over like in March. But John was very smart. And John had two prints of hustlin flow made. So he had one at Sundance. And he had the other one playing simultaneously in Brad Gray's private screening room. And knowing full well that he kind of wanted the movie to be at Paramount, right. So before Brad even became official, like on the on the on the clock, so to speak, he was watching Hustle and Flow. And he told everybody like, I think you should, you should try to go by that movie, because you know, MTV and ve t, you know, we could really use the Viacom machine and all that kind of stuff. So then what happened was, is that they made a deal with John Wright. And the John deal was for say, the purchase price of Hustle and Flow was in two categories. It was they purchased the movie for $9 million. But then they made a deal with John Singleton, where he got to what are called put pictures, which means, like, kind of no matter what, he can make a movie as long as it's under $3 million. And he had two of those because he brought Hustle and Flow to Paramount. We both we brought it to them numerous times, and they passed on it. And we just wanted $3 million. And now they paid nine for it. And so he was like, hey, I want to make more of these. And later he made one called illegal tender, where he just wanted to have complete control over his movies. When they bought that movie, and they made that deal with John, they thought that I was a part of it. But remember what I said earlier, no options, right? I didn't want anything on it. So I will never forget this moment. Where because I wrote Black Snake Moan before Hustle and Flow was made. And while we're flying back to LA, from Sundance, I saw two people reading Black Snake Man. And I thought, Oh, this is that he I've been hearing about like this, that thing that maybe I have a shot there. So John really loved it. And Stephanie really loved it. And they knew it was crazy. And they and and and yet they also saw what I wanted to do with it because it was very much about like connection and anxiety. And there was a heart behind it. It wasn't just like exploitation, even though it you know, it was kind of like a blues fable. But we started meeting with other studios, and then we got Sam. And then Brad Gray was like, Well, wait a minute, why is he going off to make a movie somewhere else? We just bought Isilon flow and it's going to be coming out. So they go well, you don't have a deal with him. He's like, Oh, so I'll never forget going over to his house. I'll never forget this the IV, there was an IV wall. I was like calling this assistant going, like I think I'm at his house. I just can't see anything. They're like, No, we see you. And this wall of ivy moves. And when it moved, it revealed this just really muscular African American guy in a black Armani suit with black sunglasses and an earpiece. And he had a Rottweiler that was right next to him. There was just, it was like it was it was like you were entering like a cartel. You know, and, and I come in and Brad comes out, and he goes, Okay, you want to make this radiator movie? That's what he called it. And he goes, Are you sure you don't want to do something else? I know that, like we can, you know, there's all these kinds of properties that we have, and we can put you on it. And I said to him, I said, Well, I've read a lot of books about about filmmakers in my position. And the way I see it is that I think that the second movie always is kind of a risky thing, you know? And I'm pretty confident that I could probably get a job as a director doing, you know, franchise stuff or other stuff later on. But I really feel like I should use this time to get something made that normally wouldn't get made. And he said I respect that. And he goes well, I am. He was I don't how do you put it? I don't bet on races. I bet on horses. And he goes so we're gonna make Black Snake Moan Is that Is that fine? Let's just is it can we just say right here that we're gonna make it and I go if you want to make it, sir then absolutely. And he made it and he was proud of it and and people were telling him he was an idiot for doing it. Why are you going to do this? No one's gonna come see it and nobody came here. But I always think about there's that day that Paramount called and said, look, we've got Footloose and we really want to do something with it. Do you think you could do it? And I was like, Yes sir. Because I felt like this was this was me going like I, I told you guys, I'll be there for you on something that maybe, you know, may not be about chaining people to blues women's radiators. And and, and. And that's, that's how we that's how we did it. I'm so proud that it exists in the world because I now I now just feel like I don't, I just don't. I mean, I definitely don't see a world where a theatrical release would have been attempted on something like that I can see like maybe Black Snake Moan being at a stream or something like that. But even then it's going to be a little bit wild to get that done. Because, you know, you would get the kind of studio notes like, Oh, what is this? What kind of tone is it? But
Alex Ferrari 40:57
That movie doesn't get made today? There's no way that movie gets made today.
Craig Brewer 41:01
Yeah, I mean, it's it's it's definitely a way volatile. You know,
Alex Ferrari 41:05
There's no way that that movie gets made today. I'm so glad there's certain movies like that, that I'm glad they exist. I think Tim Burton's Mars Attacks is one of those films for me. Yeah. Like, when I walked out of there, I'm like, Man, I don't know what just happened. But I'm glad it exists. You know, just I'm glad that that movie got made. And there's a handful of those throughout cinema. But Black Snakes was one of it's like, there's just no way that gets made today. There's just no, no amount of heat allows that film to get made in today's environment. And it was tough in that, you know?
Craig Brewer 41:40
Oh, yeah. Well, yeah. And it came out. It was a such an interesting year, because no one really liked the movie, because the movie industry was changing. It came out in 2007. And that was like a real pivotal year for what was happening on a global level. So you know, you were making movies that China had to play and South America had to play and even Russia. It's so funny how, like, you know, the very people that now are so much in the news right now. 2007 was all about trying to make movies for them. Right. And, and so, you know, you had Karna hands movie, I think smokin aces was coming. You had you had Death Proof at the same time along, you know, with the with Robert, with Forbidden Planet, and And if none of us did well, in the audience, like none of us like it was a bad it was a bad move for?
Alex Ferrari 42:34
Well, Joe, I mean, I've talked to Joe about smokin aces, and he still says that he makes more money off of smokin aces now than he's made on anything.
Craig Brewer 42:41
It's so funny. There's a guy that worked out with so So here's what's interesting is that the head of Paramount Home Video, like called me up and just said, We want you to know something about Black Snake Moan. I was like, Oh, great. Erica, like Black Snake Moan, not only did double our expectations, it not only tripled our expectation, it quadrupled our expectations, which means to say and I go, Yeah, people probably don't want to go out to a theater to see this movie, but they're dying to watch it at home. And that's and so I've always felt good that I've yet to really make anything that like cost a studio money. I've at the very least broke even. Right and, and so yeah, I'm proud that I have that that movie behind me.
Alex Ferrari 43:27
Yeah. And in a time where, you know, it came out in a time when there was still home video. Yeah, that was that was a real revenue generator.
Craig Brewer 43:35
And now what's so strange What's so strange is, is now there's that meme of Sam from Black Snake Man. Yes, please just kind of, yeah, blanket, like looking at my life with the white hair. And, and, and that gets sent around. I remember talking to a class of of my daughters. And I brought that up and they're like, oh, yeah, we you know, we use that all the time. That's from your movie. So so they're just looking at a frame, or like a series of frames because he's blinking and moving a little bit. And, and they don't know what it's from, but it has its own life. I mean, the same thing can be said for here in town, you know, our Memphis Grizzlies, our basketball team whenever we go to the playoffs, and we're like really in the mix. They start playing that song from Hustle and Flow whoop that trick and 20,000 people start chanting whoop that trick and I found out that like my daughter and all her friends, they didn't know that was from Hustle and Flow. They just thought that was the thing you said at basketball games. And that's what's so interesting about the about the generation city, they'll get a clip of something or they get a little bit of it, but they don't know that it's got this history that it's connected to. It's it's literally like visual hip hop, you know,
Alex Ferrari 44:49
Right! No, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. Oh, yeah, dude, that's, that's remarkable. Now listen, all the times you've been on set. What is the craziest thing that ever happened to you on set? How did you overcome it as a director?
Craig Brewer 45:03
Hmm. Well, one of the ones that I want to talk about
Alex Ferrari 45:07
I wasn't publicly publicly. When we stopped recording, you could tell me the other ones. But for right now,
Craig Brewer 45:12
I got to I can tell you about that. Well, you know, I, let's see, what is the craziest thing that's ever happened? Oh, man, you're stumping me there. I mean, I think there's always been there, there hasn't been something that of course, that I can talk about that would be like completely, like derailed a production or something like that. It would always be like happy accidents, or something like that. So I'll tell you just the craziest night I've ever had on set was in Hustle and Flow. There is a scene at a it's a roller skating rink here in Memphis called the Crystal Palace, and it was outside. And it had this glorious, like, you know, neon sign that lit up. And I really wanted to do kind of like a cruising scene where everybody's out there with their cars that I'd sometimes see on the weekend where they like, you know, they're on their, you know, their, their pump, you know, their pump cars and everything like that, and just hundreds of people there. And basically everybody said, like, you got to figure out another way to do this, because there's no way we can afford all these extras. And there's no way we can get a car like this. And John Singleton was like, Absolutely not. So John went on four different radio stations that day, and said, Hey, we're making a movie, you want to be in my movie. Then you come out to the Crystal Palace, you bring your ride, you bring your car, and hundreds of people showed up for that.
Alex Ferrari 46:49
Fast and Furious style that's Fast and Furious style,
Craig Brewer 46:53
Totally Fast and Furious style for no money. Like, we didn't, we didn't pay for those cars. Those cars just showed up. People just wanted to show off their cars, all those extras, all those people and as the night started going on, and then the weed smoke started, like just getting thicker. At a certain point, John was getting so excited, but I remember like grabbing John, and at a certain point, I like grabbed him by the shoulders. And I was like, Am I in south central right now? He goes, No, I go, where am I? He goes, you're in Memphis. I go. No, you're in Memphis. You're now in my community. And I'm telling you we got half a half an hour before something pops off right now. Because it's getting like way too unhinged. And people are like, start I'm seeing like a couple of arguments happening here. In John week, we've got one security guard. Because that's all we could afford. And like, we weren't, we weren't we weren't that big of a movie. But I swear to God, like that was the night that I thought that everything that was just gonna explode. And every time I see that shot, it looks like we have so much money. It looks like we we can remember that shot. I remember that is so reckless and so amazing that John just went on all these different radio stations said you won't be in the movie show up. And I mean, we had like people down the block trying to get into the movie. And it was a scary night. But that was like the night that I felt like, Man, I'm running and gun and as like a filmmaker, you know, it's uh, it was it was scary.
Alex Ferrari 48:19
And one last movie I want to ask you about man is coming to America. I mean, yeah, arguably, in my opinion, the greatest comedy ever made, in my personal I quote that I can quote every single line in that movie. It is a masterpiece and every. So how did you approach attempting to make a sequel to a masterpiece like that? Because it is absolute masterpiece. The first one,
Craig Brewer 48:43
You know, it's funny because I'm far enough away from coming to America to that I can kind of like think about the whole experience because it was was really wild. First of all, like I did them back to back like I did dolomite as my name went right into coming to America. And I remember, I remember Eddie asking me to do it. And of course, I was like, Well, how do I not do that? Because I mean, I'm such a huge John Landis fan. I think I mean, like everything like like The Blues Brothers. And I mean, I can quote every line from Three Amigos to you. But I remember talking to Jodi, my, the director of photography on it. And we were, we were, I can't remember we're wearing a van like a like a locations van. And we had made like, 10 episodes of empire together. So we were close, right? And Jodi's black, and I kind of leaned into it and I was like, You know what we're doing right? We're, we're, we're kind of doing Black Star Wars. And he goes, that's exactly what we're doing it and it was like, it was like this moment that we kind of like had to say and what we meant by that was Coming to America means so much to everybody. That that it's, it's really going to be held to this, this standard that's very tricky to navigate with it. And so every time we would come to decisions about coming to America, because it's the first time I've ever actually, I've usually developed movies or like or written a movie, and it was, it was the first time really that I've ever come on to direct something that had been moving for, like, probably about five years or something like that. And and I remember just thinking, like, you would talk to people about, you know, coming to America coming out, and everybody would say, like, well, it's like, is is are the are the barbershop guys gonna be in it? are, you know, is is, you know, Randy Watson gonna be in it, they would just constantly come at you with like, well, I better have this a better have that. Absolutely. You know, and, and so you realize that you're tied to people want to have that experience, again, they want to see those characters again. And that's when like, I began to kind of relax a little bit more with the daunting nature of like doing a sequel to something that's so perfect. It's just going like, you know, I'm not here to replace coming to America. I'm here to like, make a movie that everybody can come to, to have some fun seeing these characters again, and have a good time. And what was so strange about it was I, I just couldn't wait for a theatrical experience of it. Cut to it's a pandemic. And now the very age group that would probably lead the ticket sales is my age group and shit. And you're and so and we're the ones that are no matter what not going to a movie theater, you know. And so, one day, I get a call that Paramount has now sold it to Amazon. And Amazon did this enormous campaign for it. I mean, it was there, there were wrapping airplanes and flying flags all over the world. And so it launched on a Friday. And and I remember getting this call from Amazon saying you gotta get on the phone right now. We're having an emergency meeting. And I was like, Oh, dammit. Now here we go. What's wrong? And they get us on the phone? They said we had a 30 day goal. And we we achieved it in less than eight hours.
Alex Ferrari 52:36
I mean, viewership give me viewership. Yeah, of course, because everybody wanted to go see that movie, everyone.
Craig Brewer 52:42
And what I, what I found out was that like, not only were everybody watching it, but then like, kind of what Jodi and I were talking about on that day is like, and what we really want is that see, coming to America is this movie that's just been playing on TV and actually like some and you know, mass TV meaning like, all the swearing and been taken out of and everything. So you have kids kind of watching coming to America. So you had like three generations of people watching coming to America during a pandemic, where they just wanted to kind of like, have a good time. So people were having watch parties with the people that they felt comfortable with. And it was and for one weekend in my life. The globe was watching this movie, like the entire world was just watching it. And so I felt good about that. I felt I felt like okay, well, we had like a good time with with coming to America. And we and we had some good entertainment and we made Amazon's, you know, biggest hit at the at the time and, and then just try to like, you know, keep in mind that there's going to be haters with it. Like, like everything, like that's why I'm mad about like Black Star Wars. It's like it was it was this thing that people are so precious with it, that that you're you know, you're gonna get you're gonna get people kind of hating on things, but I just didn't I didn't let any of that affect me or anything and just your time.
Alex Ferrari 53:59
But you also had a little bit of experience with that with Footloose, because when you read it Footloose, I mean, that's a precious 80s movie. It's like a classic. And I remember because I was in the Ellen screening room because I was at Ellen that day, for whatever reason with my wife, and they're like, Hey, you guys want to watch Footloose? I'm like, Cool. And so we went off and watched Footloose for two hours. And you came out and the first word you said were, why would anybody wanted we make Footloose? Like, it's perfect. Like I said the same thing, everybody. But then you're like, Well, I did this and I did that. It's a little bit different here and there because but I wouldn't want to try to remake Footloose.
Craig Brewer 54:33
Here's, here's what's so funny about footless is it actually got it got a lot of really good reviews. And and it the audience scores were always really, really high on it. But I understood people going like, why would you How dare you remake Footloose? Because I am a huge fan of the original movie. But now here's what's kind of interesting, like within the last couple of months Miles Taylor. Kane, this phenomenon on tick tock with 13 year old girls of color, I don't know what miles did in I mean, he's been around for a minute, you know, but something happened in this tick tock world where every one of my daughter's friends were like, oh my god, Miles Teller and I was like, are you talking about miles and they were like, oh my god miles Taylor and they could not get enough of Miles Teller. And then I started kind of like hearing from all my daughter's friends just going like, you know, dead. No one ever watches the original Footloose and I was like, well, that's sad because you got to watch the original Footloose. It's the it's the one I grew up on. It's what it's it's it's Kevin Bacon. It's John lift, go you know, it's dying wheeze you know, you got to see it. They're like no, but it doesn't have miles in it doesn't have you know, and so Footloose is having like this wild renaissance right now. And the soundtrack has been so and and, and it goes back to like that Kevin Smith. bit of advice that I still think is the best bit of advice for every filmmaker, which is every movie has its day. And it may not be the day that the studio wants it to land on. Like heat has this great conversation that he always talks about mall rats that like he made clerks and then he made mall rats and not only did nobody come to see it, but critics always crapped on it and everything. And but but then now he you know, many years later, there's these kids that come up to him just like oh my god, you know, you made a mall rats and it means so much to me. And he's like really because like it was really kind of like a thing of pain with me back in the day. And I know that with like Black Snake Moan, I felt it like I wish Footloose maybe was like a big big hit. It did okay, but like you then later, like years later, so you know, something will just kind of like connect to sudden, all of a sudden. And so I'm very, I'm I'm very, very happy about about all of my daughter's friends like they that's the poster I'm signing. I'm not signing, Hustle and Flow. I'm signing my remake of Footloose, which I find hilarious.
Alex Ferrari 57:13
It's amazing how this world works sometimes by Fred It's really amazing. Now I'm going to ask you a few questions ask all my guests are what advice would you give a filmmaker wanting to break into the business today?
Craig Brewer 57:23
I mean, first and foremost, the the hard thing that we all just struggle with, which is truly like a discipline like to to to every day treat it like it's a job even though no one's paying you to how can I learn more about the business? How can I you know, I think you should read trades if it helps you know who to go to, you don't want to pitch all your movies to one place. This place may you know today, a 24 is gonna want to hear one pitch and Fox Searchlight may want to hear something else, like you need to know where you're going. And sometimes that means like really being informed reading as much as you can. And writing every day if writing is a part of your world, which I think it should be because I think if you really want to break into the business, you have to write your way in that's the that's the leverage that you have. And it also just informs you as a director, you you learn about storytelling more through writing, as well as directing. But really like the hard one, the really bit of hard advice is do you really know who you are yet? And I think for young filmmakers, that's always a little bit nerve racking, you know, and what I usually do is I'll show them like, you know, Spike Lee's you know, we cut heads, right? I'll show Sophia Coppola short film, lick the star, right. And then I'll show following by Christopher Nolan. And I'll or pi from Darren Aronofsky. Right. And just ask questions of like, can you see there later films here? And usually you can, you know, I mean, even that 15 minute short that Sofia Coppola made with these girls in high school where they've got the star on there, you know, that they've dreamt drawn on their their hand and they say, look, the star and it's like, the girl says, What does that and she's like, God needs to kill the rats, you know, backwards. But she had like, cool, pop and punk music in it. There was fashion forward, you saw the you saw, like, if you turn the lights out on Sofia Coppola, after that short, you could go like, Oh, she's into fashion. She's into this particular type of music. She's ended this dynamic of narrative. And I think that's hard for young people who are hungry to get into the business to allow themselves the time and the effort to find what Those elements in themselves are. You look at an ARRI Astra movie and you go like, Oh, I think I know, this is an Ari Astor movie, right. But that's him finding it. You know what I mean. And I think that, that the mistake a lot of young people make and what I mean by young is not necessarily young, but like young in the business trying to get into it, is they want to get in and get paid, you know, they want to get in and get financed. And I just sometimes say, like, do you because, you know, really, the best way to be a filmmaker is to step in crap every once in a while. And that's when you learn. And you don't want to be doing that with like, a bunch of money hanging over you. Where this town may say, like, hey, we shouldn't have hired that person. You need to make some crap. And that's where the flowers grow out of, you know? And that's where you learn like, oh, okay, you know what? I think I don't really do these wonders that I'm seeing and all these things. Oh, you know what, I think that maybe slow motion isn't my thing. I mean, I know that's cool in that action moment, that I saw in like three movies that I wanted to copy. But maybe my thing is this thing that I do and and I think that that's that's the biggest bit of advice I'd give to somebody because that doesn't require people giving you a bunch of money, and you knocking on doors that may be you going like, Okay, well, what are the movies that I feel like are me and what is my life experience about? And what are the what are the stories that I feel that I want to be that I want to tell? And like kind of like my dad dying? I think that's why that's why that movie was so important to me is that is that for the first time I was thinking about? Okay, well, what if this is my last movie? Not my first, it would be my first and last movie. So what do I want, like my son to know about me from this movie? What's the soundtrack of it? What's the look? What's the where's the heart and soul of this movie? And where does it land? And, and I think that, that, that is something that people can figure out without some sort of like, door opening for them into Hollywood, and they'll respect you more, if you know who you are, once you get into the business
Alex Ferrari 1:02:15
Very much so very, very much. So. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?
Craig Brewer 1:02:25
That that this too shall pass? You know, it's just hard, you know, you, you experience something? And it's, it's harmful to you on that day. And you just think that you're done. And you're destroyed. It's over. And, and, and, you know, if the gig is up, they know you're a fraud, you know? And
Alex Ferrari 1:02:51
That's a given isn't it, though, isn't it? What don't we always think we're a fraud. I mean, every Absolutely. If you're an artist, you
Craig Brewer 1:02:56
We're making make believe how can we not feel like a fraud, but but I think that that you know, I'm lucky that like, Hustle and Flow was right when Twitter was happening, but it wasn't at the point of Twitter where people could do like, crap on you with such virtuosity as it's done today, and with anonymity to some extent. And I think that, that, that really like now I'm finding like, no, no, no, I'm good. I'm gonna move on to the on to the next I saw a documentary on stage director, Hal Prince, and he, he does something that I was like, Oh, I'm doing that which is on his opening night of his musicals, which is on a Friday, he scheduled a breakfast the following Saturday with his collaborators to discuss his next show. And I was like that, that's a Mac move because that that shows you that you are in the you are in the flow of being a creator. And your worth is not completely based on the success or failure of what you just made. You're in an arc that is going beyond that is going over decades. You're not in an arc that's going over a weekend and whether or not people are going to go see your movie, or go see your show. And and I think that that's that's probably the one that as I as I come into my 50s is like, you know what? That I'm a little bit better with handling Okay, now I gotta I gotta deal with judgment and opinions that seem to be everywhere.
Alex Ferrari 1:04:30
Oh, yeah. Okay. And toughest question of all three of your favorite films of all time?
Craig Brewer 1:04:35
I know my favorite. Which is Purple Rain. Purple Rain. I mean, I really think that purple rain for me has now surpassed Star Wars in and raiders in viewing meaning I usually show it to my casting crew before i i start a picture. I do tutorials sometimes I was on the first eight minutes of Purple Rain, I think the first eight minutes of Purple Rain is brilliant. It's all set to let's go crazy, this extended version, but you get you really know who your protagonist, you know that there's going to be a love story, you know that more stays is going to be a villain. You know how everybody feels, and you kind of even know what everybody wants, and the music never stops, but, but the editing and the and the visuals that you see, I think like three tongues within the first minute. Like, you know that sex is gonna be a part of this. And it's kind of got this interesting look with these very, like quick little shots of just people in a frozen state. Like they're not freeze frame, but it's just so creative and inventive. And I know that people go like, Oh, Greg, like, the acting and and I was like, Yeah, but it's kind of logical, it's kind of it's kind of opera, it didn't know, and you've got to just kind of, like go into it with that opera feel. So if I were like on a desert island, it would definitely have to be purple rain. But I still think that Godfather is just, it's, it's hard to deny that those themes of family and how much you're going to sell your soul to, you know, to, to, to, to protect your family, and to thrive. Those themes are just so universal, you know, and they and I showed it to my daughter recently, and she loved it. And I was like, Man, that's just the it's funny that this movie still can can move people. And then the third one is John sales made a movie called Matewan. That is just a perfect movie that I really try to urge as many people to see and that I can. And I had a great, great honor to be able to work with James Earl Jones where I got to tell him how much his character a few clothes meant to me when I was a young man and his mind, he has a great monologue in it. That begins with him saying you shut your mouth pakkawood just the best, best delivery of just smacking down some white Hasee that's calling him you know, there's been a racist, and it's just power but it's like, you know, Chris Cooper's like think it's his first movie. Really it is. You know, so many people are in it that are just wonderful. But those might three.
Alex Ferrari 1:07:29
And I'll tell you when I had John on the show, and it was like having a masterclass listen to him talk about story and directing. And he gives some of the best directing advice. Oh, God, like he would just to some beautiful little little little tweaks, just little nuggets that you just go, Oh, that would be you know what I'm doing that next time. I'm doing that next time. Oh,
Craig Brewer 1:07:52
It's so funny how Film, film people, especially film directors. We still just need to collect all those those little gems. We you know, and the one thing that I always try to urge you know, the, the newer crop of cinephiles that are coming out. It's like, you know, you got to look back you know, it's got glad I'm glad that you you love you know, I know that that you think that dark night is a classic film. And I'm not saying it's not Roger, Roger, I'm not saying it's not. I love Dark Knight. But But actually, I'm gonna show you this movie all heat.
Alex Ferrari 1:08:28
That was you read my mind.
Craig Brewer 1:08:30
And by the way, just probably plenty of people that will be like, okay, but I'm gonna now show you this movie. Craig Rififi. Like, or thief, which is I just watched that recently. But yeah, it's like, it's endless. How much cinema there is that we have to learn from that's just further back than than necessarily what is what is now. You know, and, and I would love to been in the room with John sales and learn all that.
Alex Ferrari 1:08:58
I mean, no, it's, it's, well, you could watch it at any time. I'll send you a link. It's a it's a 90 minute, tour de force of him talking about Lonestar how we did the webinar at Lone Star like, you know, there's the scene switch midway. I'm like, John, how'd you do that? And he's like, Oh, well, we had this guy. And they fell down and jumped out of this because it's just in the one shot it just is a transition of like, you know, three decades or something like that. And, and I'm like, How'd you do that? And because it was low budget, there was no CG and he's like, oh, yeah, well, you did this and then we have the guy run around and he did that. I'm like, oh, and I'm not sure it was John and told me this but I've read I heard this somewhere he's like, when you when you just about the yield cut. Hold on for three more seconds.
Craig Brewer 1:09:38
You know what, I learned that from editing my own movie, because you want to and it just takes one time for you to learn it and that is like I wanted to just do a really slow dissolve. But I noticed that like I had somebody holding an image holding the thought and then you could see as the slow dissolve was happening, you could see them go like like Like when you called cut too soon,
Alex Ferrari 1:10:02
Right! And you just never know what they'll do too. Sometimes just a little magic happens. You guys, leave that time for the magic. Greg, I keep talking to you for hours, brother. I appreciate you having this conversation with us. And hopefully it helps some young cinephiles coming up behind us. So I truly appreciate you and thank you for all the amazing work you've done and continue. I can't wait to see what you come up with next, my friend.
Craig Brewer 1:10:22
Thanks so much. It was great. Great to be on with you today.
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